I have been hiking for almost 20 years now. I still manage to forget to pack something every now and then – especially when I am getting back into the swing of things at the beginning of the season. For example, I know better but have been leaving the bug spray at home because we haven’t rain into any major bugs in a while….until our hike to Eagle Lake. The mosquitoes were thick there and left me cursing my complacency.
Hiking is a soul-nourishing activity for me. It either gives me time to think by myself and go at my own pace (or Gretel’s fast pace actually) or to step away from the business of life and connect with the person I am hiking with. It gives me the opportunity to get more in-tune with Chester and Gretel and build our bond. The challenges also make me mentally and physically stronger.
When you hike with a big dog, they can carry some of the load. Small dogs usually can’t carry a pack or, if they do, you can’t put a whole lot inside of them. When you hike with small dogs, you are the one that has to carry everything.
Over the years, I have learned what I need to put in there to make my day relaxing, comfortable and take care of any minor mishaps. This is what I bring on our hiking trips.
Let’s start with the foundation – the actual backpack. The minimum size pack that I use for a day hike is 15 liters and the maximum is about 40 liters. Liters are the volume of stuff you can put into the entire bag, including all of the small pockets.
The 15 liter pack is pretty small but this one is special. In a regular pack you need to take into account space for all of the water you will be carrying to stay hydrated. My little pack comes fitted with a hydration bladder – a big plastic bag that goes inside and has a drinking tube to drink from. The volume and space for that hydration bladder is not included in the overall bag volume calculation…so really by bag carries 15 liters PLUS my water.
What’s Inside My Backpack
For little emergencies
- Small First Aid Kit
- Ultra-light Flash 18 pack (for carrying a small dog out of the woods in an emergency)
- Bug Repellant (not pictured…because I forgot it)
- Headlamp (in case you get stuck out after dark)
- Cell Phone (turned off. Note: This is for the off-chance that I could actually get reception. Most places you can’t)
For the dogs comfort
- Poo Bags
- Gallon Freezer Ziplock Bag (to put the poo bag in so it doesn’t stink while you carry it out)
- Collapsible Silicone Dish
- Water Bottle (with their special water in it)
- Water flavoring (to encourage them to drink – actually added to the water before we leave)
For my comfort
- Water (if I am not using my hydration pack)
- Long-sleeved Shirt for Layering
- Plenty of Water (in my hydration bladder or an extra bottle)
- Handkerchief (for mopping up the sweat)
- Extra Socks (if I am going somewhere were I might get wet)
If you are new to hiking, hopefully this little list will help you be prepared and have a great experience out on the trail. It will also serve as a great reminder for me at the beginning of each hiking season.
If you are a seasoned hiker, please leave a comment telling us about your must-haves.